President Buhari Outflanks Climate Conference with Call for Transaqua

Nigeria Outflanks Climate Conference with Call for Transaqua, Expresses Gratitude to Italy

Dec. 6, 2018 (EIRNS)—Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari outflanked the green-fascist lobby at the ongoing COP24 climate summit circus, in Katowice, Poland, by calling on the international community to help build the inter-basin water transfer infrastructure to replenish Lake Chad (Transaqua) and thanking the Italian government for financing the feasibility study.

As the Nigerian daily Independent reported,“President Muhammadu Buhari lauded the Italian government for providing a grant of € 1.5 million towards conducting feasibility studies on the Lake Chad basin. Buhari said:

“With water receding in the Lake which provides livelihood to over 40 million people, the federal government in conjunction with [Lake Chad Basin Commission] member nations are proposing inter-basin water transfer from the Congo basin to revive it.”

“Nigeria would build on the success of an International Conference [on Lake Chad] held earlier in February this year in Abuja to create additional awareness globally on the serious environmental and security challenges facing the Lake Chad region.”

Buhari reminded the COP24 Summit that a consensus was reached at the Abuja conference that an inter-basin water transfer from the Congo Basin remains the most sustainable option available to save Lake Chad. With that, he referred to the conference resolution endorsing Transaqua by name as the only available option.

“I once again call on the international community to support this worthy project, for the benefit of nearly 40 million people who depend on the Lake for their livelihood, and to guarantee future security of the region,” Buhari said.

Scientific Economic Progress is Essential to Stem the Migration of Africans

The only real solution to the migrant crisis is the economic development of Africa. Sadly, Africans will continue to take dangerous journeys and risk their very lives searching for opportunities for productive employment in other countries. Economic growth is the sine qua non for Africa and this depends on massive expansion of infrastructure across the continent. The levels of investments required in vital areas of infrastructure cannot be accomplished by the private and financial sectors. Government issued public credit is necessary to fund the trillions of dollars of infrastructure needed to develop the African continent. The application, training, and education in new scientific endeavors in nuclear energy and space satellites are key components of a healthy growing economy that all African nations should enthusiastically embrace to secure the their future. 

More African Refugees Take Dangerous Atlantic Route to Europe

Dec. 5, 2018 –Reuters reports “a  resurgence in African migrants taking the treacherous Atlantic route to the Spanish territory this year in search of jobs and prosperity that they cannot find at home. It marks the revival of a worrying trend. In 2006 — when 30,000 migrants managed to reach the Canary Islands — some 7,000 people died trying to make the crossing, rights groups say.”

Faced with the land route via Libya ending now in detention camps, with no hope of ever reaching Europe, migrants increasingly take the sea route from West Africa to the Iberian Peninsula.

“Managing … migratory flows is very much like squeezing a balloon. When one route closes, the flows increase on another,” the Reuters report quotes Izabella Cooper, spokeswoman for EU border agency Frontex, as saying.

“Migrants face many dangers on the open ocean, including mountainous waves, blistering heat and starvation,” writes Reuters, and, although reliable data are not available, authorities in Senegal and Gambia said there has been a rise in boats attempting to reach the Canary Islands this year. The boats are often canoes not really seaworthy for ocean voyages, or tiny boats with dozens of refugees on board, propelled by engines not fit for such voyages either. Empty boats have been spotted repeatedly, and their real numbers remain unrecorded. “The sea is
very, very big. And they can leave from wherever in Senegal, Gambia or further south,” the Reuters report quotes Rafael Carballo Abeger, an attaché at the Spanish Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.

Rwanda Has Signed a Nuclear Deal with Russia

Dec. 6, 2018– During an official visit of Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete to Moscow, an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy was signed between the two countries. “The cooperation agreement will lay the foundation for active dialogue between the two countries in the field of peaceful use of atomic energy, and will allow for practical implementation of particular projects,” {ESI Africa}, a power journal, reported on Dec. 6. Rosatom’s Director General Aleksey Likhachev signed the agreement on behalf of Russia and Gatete signed on behalf of Rwanda.

Likhachev said: “We are happy to share our more than 70 years expertise in the field of peaceful use of nuclear technologies with our Rwandan partners. We hope that our cooperation in that area will contribute to the economic growth and improve the quality of life of the Rwandan population.” The document establishes a legal basis for interaction between the two countries including elaboration of the project for the construction of a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology, and of a Nuclear Power Plant in the Republic of Rwanda, {World Nuclear News} reported.

 

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Nigeria’s Buhari Renews Commitment for Lake Chad Water Transfer Solution

Dec. 1, 2018 — Speaking at a meeting of the heads of state and government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission-(LCBC) in N’djamena, Chad, Nigerian President Buhari renewed his commitment to pursue the project for “inter-basin water transfer,” i.e. Transaqua, to defeat poverty and eliminate the roots of terrorism in the Sahel.

According to the {Vanguard}, he “charged the Presidents and Heads of Governments in attendance to make concerted efforts to ensure the actualization of efforts to recharge the Lake [Chad], President Buhari stressed that if meticulously pursued, the project ‘has the capacity to unlock the economic potentials and provide solutions to the myriad of interrelated challenges confronting the region.’ As Chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the LCBC, President Buhari assured of his commitment to providing the required leadership and direction for the actualization of peace and security in the area,” the daily wrote.

The gathered leaders, President Idris Deby Itno of Chad, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic, and Prime Minister of Cameroon Philemon Yang, who represented President Paul Biya, issued a joint statement in which they “resolved to change {modus operandi}, collaborate more, and renew assault on all forms of terrorism and criminal acts, till wholesome peace was restored to the region,” the {Vanguard} reports.

At the International Conference on Lake Chad held in Abuja, Nigeria in February, the LCBC leaders committed to explore Transaqua as the only viable solution to the Lake Chad crisis. Transaqua is an Italian idea for a 2,400 km waterway to transfer 100 billion cubic meters water per year from the Congo Basin and produce electricity for agro-industrial development. So far, however, only the Italian government has pledged the initial funds for the feasibility study. A protocol was signed last October in Rome and hopefully the joint LCBC-Italy committee can  release the funds at their first meeting next January, for the feasibility study to begin.

Read more below

Insurgency : Buhari calls for bilateral, multinational platforms at Lake Chad

US-Western Culture is Failing Because Its People Are Dying.

Nov. 29, 2018—Forget the stock market, inflation, and the jobs figures. According to the most vital measures of the U.S. economy, the fundamentals are very unsound.

U.S. life-expectancy at birth decreased again in 2017, according to statistics released today by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This makes the third year in a row that, contrary to the rest of the world, U.S. life-expectancy has stagnated or gone down. Such a multi-year reduction—from a peak of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 years in 2017—has not occurred for 100 years, at the time of World War I and the Spanish flu epidemic.

The fact that adults between 25 and 44 years of age were the grouping that showed a statistically significant decrease in life-expectancy bodes poorly for future population growth as well. A society whose young adults of child-bearing age are dying at increasing rates, is a society headed for death.

A complementary report from the CDC also issued today points to one of the causes of the life-expectancy decline: deaths from opioid overdoses increased 9.6% between 2016 and 2017.  The absolute number—70,237—is slightly less than had been anticipated in the summer, but should still be cause for alarm. The other cause of deaths that  the CDC cites is the increase in suicides.

I’ve written about it before, but I have to say it again: population growth, in quality and quantity, is a hallmark of the American System of economics, and all competent economic science. The human mind is the source of invention and wealth, as human history shows, and as humanity cultivates its power over nature (including itself), it creates new potentials for progress. Through human inventive power, we have been able to advance from a culture where people had to spend all their waking hours simply guaranteeing their survival, to one where people (potentially) can eliminate poverty, harness nature, and have the leisure to develop their minds, create new inventions, and explore new worlds.

Conversely, when the human mind is degraded—as through slavery, narcotic drugs, pornography, and other degeneracy—the economy is eventually doomed. This is the process which we in the United States have been going through for nigh onto 50 years, and it’s killing us.

The last statistic I will mention is suicide.  Suicide is now the 10th major cause of death in the United States, and has increased from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017. It is at the highest rate in 50 years. Here again, the United States is out of sync with the rest of the world, where the suicide rate, on average, is going down.

“Since this (drop in life expectancy) is being driven by increases in deaths due to drug overdoses and suicides and this affects the younger population, you’re talking about a lot of potential life that’s not being lived as a result of those increases,” commented Robert Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics.

This situation is not going to be reversed by special programs to stop addiction and suicides. It’s going to take a sweeping change in the approach we citizens take toward our obligation to society and the future. Fortunately, there are models within our own American history for success. When will we start to heed them

Science and Technology Will Transform Africa: Ethiopia to Launch New Satellite in 2019

Finally, in recent years African nations and the African Union have embarked on the exciting and necessary use of space technology to advance their societies. Science and technology are the most fundamental drivers of economic growth. It is the discovery of new scientific principles of space that lead to breakthroughs in new technologies to transform the continent. For too long, Africa has been denied the “right” to use space science, and it no surprise that Ethiopia is in the leadership of this effort.

Ethiopia Will Have Its Own Remote Sensing Satellite, with Help from China

Nov. 27, 2018

Dawn breaks over a radio telescope dish of the KAT-7 Array pointing skyward at the proposed South African site for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope near Carnavon in the country's remote Northern Cape province in this picture taken May 18, 2012. South Africa is bidding against Australia to host the SKA, which will be the world's largest radio telescope when completed. Picture taken May 18, 2012.

As reported yesterday by Reuters, the government of Ethiopia announced that Ethiopia would have an Earth remote sensing satellite built in China and launched in September 2019.

China would pay $6 million for the design and construction of the satellite and the launch, toward the $8 million total cost. {The EastAfrican} weekly newspaper and on-line site reported that the satellite will be launched from China, but the command and control center will be based in Ethiopia.

Although according to the Reuters wire, the satellite will be used for “climate and related phenomena,” in fact, the data will also be used for agriculture, land use, and other necessary monitoring for the economy.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Innovation and Technology released a statement on the future of the country’s space plans, and mentioned a number of African space projects. One of these involves China granting $550 million to Nigeria to purchase two satellites according to Quartz Africa multimedia website, which explains that China has “deepened its place in all spheres, economic and political. Conquering the space business and providing space mapping services is part of Beijing’s globe-spanning Belt and Road Initiative, with both state-run and private Chinese space companies selling made-in-China satellites abroad.”

Quartz Africa reports that “as satellites get smaller and cheaper, an increasing number of African nations are declaring their plans to look skyward. The African Union has also introduced an African space policy, which calls for the development of a continental outer-space program and the adoption of a new framework to use satellite communications for economic progress. The demand for satellite capacity is expected to double in the next five years in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Undoubtedly, as part of the “Space Silk Road,” China will be playing a leading role in bringing space technology to Africa.

Read: China to Help Launch Ethiopia’s First Satellite in 2019 

 

Africa’s Infrastructure Deficit Is Literally Killing Its People

Below are slides from my 14 hour course: “The legacy of Slavery and Colonialism in Africa” that I am presently teaching at Frederick Community college in Maryland.

They clearly demonstrates the huge deficit in Africa for two vital areas of hard infrastructure; energy and rail. The colonialists and the neo-colonial policies by Western nations and their financial institutions following the liberation of African nations, opposed building infrastructure in Africa. Only now over the last decade are hard infrastructure projects being constructed in Africa in collaboration with China. These pictures below juxtapose the present conditions to the what is possible and should be what the future looks like. This is the focus of my activity.

Energy: Reliable estimates are that 1 billion Africans are living in sub-Sahara Africa on a mere 100,000 megawatts of power with almost 40% of that generated by South Africa. Africans are forced to live in areas on less than 100 watts per person. Compare that to Americans who have thousands of watts available for daily consumption 365 days a year. Approximately 600 millions Africans do not have access to an electrical grid. Africa needs thousands of additional gigawatts of electricity to power advanced economies.

Rail: Africa needs hundreds of thousands of kilometers of modern rail lines. All major cities in Africa should be connect by high-speed rail. There should have been East-West and North-South railroads decades ago. This is essential for economic growth.

Africa is the next frontier of development, and can be center of economic activity in the world in two generations. This requires a full-scale commitment to build transformative infrastructure projects throughout the continent NOW!. If we do, Africa’s future will be bright.

 

Colonial railroads compared to what is minimally required.

 

 

Slavery rips hearts, souls, and minds out of Africa

Below is one of the slides I use in my 14 hour course: “Legacy of Colonialism and Slavery in Africa” at Frederick Community College 

Slavery rips hearts, souls, and minds out of Africa

Largest Forced Migration in Human History

1600-1900 (estimate)

10,904,00 Across the Atlantic

5,510,000 Across Indian Ocean and Asia

Total: 16,414,000 slaves-human chattel in 300 years exported out of Africa

54,713 per year: 36,347 to Americas and 18,367 to Asia

Consequences for African civilization

*Loss of enormous source of productive labor

*Forced redistribution of the population

*Civil disruption including Africans forced to hide in the interior of the continent

*Collapse in agricultural production

*Strongest men and women removed from society

*Increased susceptibility to disease

*Increases scientific-technological gap between Africa and Europe

*Decrease in reproduction of population; estimated loss of 100 million potential births

*Degradation, insecurity, and diminished human identity.

Frederick Douglass: “Knowledge Unfits a Man to be a Slave”

Frederick Douglas was born a slave in the month of February 1818. He was a towering figure in the fight to end slavery in the United States and emerged as a prominent American statesman in the nineteenth century. The article excepted below rekindled my memory of the exhilaration I felt over twenty years ago when I read his autobiography: “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglas.” Douglas’ lasting contribution to all Americans (and all people of the world) was his commitment to develop his mind. By learning to read and developing his mental powers, he had already “freed” himself spiritually years before he escaped from the Maryland plantation where he was kept a slave. In fact, it was the power of his mind that gave him the physical strength to challenge his master. There is no finer example for our children (and adults) to emulate, than the great Frederick Douglas, in our commitment to educate our minds and become free. Douglas understood, once he started reading, that if he could think, he would not be slave. He came to know, as we all should, that he shackles of the mind are more powerful  than the iron shackles on the body. In celebration of this bicentennial year of the birth of Frederick Douglas let us all renew our desire to unfetter our minds by emulating this unique individual. 

Frederick Douglass: “Knowledge Unfits a Man to be a Slave”

by Nancy Spannaus

This year is the 200th anniversary of Douglass’s birth, and he is finally begun to be celebrated as the towering figure he was during the mid- and late 19th century. Douglass’s role in the movement to abolish slavery, including support for Lincoln in the Civil War, and later in the tumultuous post-war battles, showed him to be a great political leader. He famously championed the U.S. Constitution and called on his fellow African-Americans to support and enforce it. He fought for the woman’s right to vote. For many years he edited his own newspaper. He also served as ambassador to Haiti for a brief time, and remained active in politics until his death in 1895.

Frederick Douglass

But the aspect of Frederick Douglass’s contribution which I want to emphasize on this occasion is Douglass’s understanding of, and commitment to, education.  Yes, Douglass was primarily addressing black Americans in his discussion of this topic. But this man, who, despite being born into slavery, fought successfully to achieve a high degree of literacy, has much to teach all Americans (and others) about the qualifications for responsible citizenship of a republic.

Readers have ample opportunity to investigate the subject for themselves in Douglass’s several autobiographies:  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), which became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition; My Bondage and My Freedom (1855); and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, which went through its final editing in 1892, three years before his death.

A Mind Awakening

By the age of nine, Douglass says, he was inquiring “into the origin and nature of slavery. Why am I a slave? Why are some people slaves and others masters? These were perplexing questions and very troublesome to my childhood. I was very early told by some one that ‘God up in the sky’ had made all things, and had made black people to be slaves and white people to be masters …. I could not tell how anybody could know that God made black people to be slaves.”

In 1825, Douglass, who was about eight at the time, was sent to live in Baltimore with his master’s cousin, Hugh Auld, and his wife. The move to a city, one of the major industrial and shipbuilding centers on the U.S. East Coast, was to give Frederick a chance to expand his horizons both mentally and physically. It was at the Aulds that Douglass came to a more conscious understanding of his hatred of slavery and his love of learning.

Douglass developed a passion early on for reading, a passion which, ironically, was provoked by the debased ideas of his master, Hugh Auld. Douglass called Auld’s lecture to his wife, on why she should stop teaching the boy to read, “the first decidedly anti-slavery lecture” he ever heard, and a revelation which drove him to learn as much as he could. In The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, the great man explained:

“The frequent hearing of my mistress reading the Bible aloud … awakened my curiosity … to this mystery of reading, and roused in me the desire to learn. Up to this time I had known nothing whatever of this wonderful art, and my ignorance and inexperience of what it could do for me, as well as my confidence in my mistress, emboldened me to ask her to teach me to read … My mistress seemed almost as proud of my progress as if I had been her own child, and supposing that her husband would be as well pleased, she made no secret of what she was doing for me. Indeed, she exultingly told him of the aptness of her pupil and of her intention to persevere, as she felt it her duty to do, in teaching me, at least, to read the Bible.”

Abraham Lincoln reading to his son Tad.

What was the reaction of the presumably God-fearing, Christian slave-owner, Hugh Auld? Douglass describes it thus: “Of course he forbade her to give me any further instruction, telling her in the first place that to do so was unlawful, as it was also unsafe, ‘for,’ said he, ‘if you give a nigger an inch he will take an ell [an obsolete unit of measurement amounting to about 45 inches-ed.]. Learning will spoil the best nigger in the world. If he learns to read the Bible it will forever unfit him to be a slave.’ Apparently unaware of the rather extraordinary admission he had just made, Auld continued, ‘He should know nothing but the will of his master, and learn to obey it. As to himself, learning will do him no good, but a great deal of harm, making him disconsolate and unhappy. If you teach him how to read, he’ll want to know how to write, and this accomplished, he’ll be running away with himself.’ ”

Read: Frederick Douglass: “Knowledge Unfits a Man to be a Slave”

President Buhari Continues to Call for Inter-Basin Water Transfer to Save Lake Chad

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari continues to call for an inter-basin water transfer from the Congo River Basin to save the shrinking Lake Chad. The project he is referring to is Transaqua, which was adopted at the International conference to Save Lake Chad in Abuja in February. Transaqua is a transformative infrastructure project will potentially affect 12 African nations in the Great Lakes region and Lake Chad Basin. I have been an advocate of this project for many years and was able to discuss it with President Buhari shortly after he was elected in March 2015.  Funding for a feasibility study of Transaqua is being negotiated now with the Italian government. It is in the interest of all African nations, the African Union, and Africa Development bank to support this project. In the words of the former Executive Secretary of the Lake chad Basin Commission: “The loss of Lake Chad would be a catastrophe for Africa.” 

We will continue to keep Lake Chad issues on front burner says President Buhari

The Sun Nigeria
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari, has stressed that his administration will continue to keep the issue of reviving the Lake Chad on the front burner and exert more commitment from the developed countries to do the needful.

He stated this during a courtesy visit by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and his investiture as Patron of the Foundation, President Buhari said it was regrettable that the issue of the receding Lake Chad had not been addressed till recent times.

‘‘The problem of climate change is real. The desert encroachment is aggravating it. The population explosion in Nigeria is another big challenge.

‘‘The drying up of Lake Chad is a serious thing for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries. Nigeria is much more affected because fishing, animal husbandry and farming are affected very seriously.

‘‘We are trying to prick the conscience of the developed countries that have the resources and the technology to quickly execute the inter basin transfer from Congo Basin to Chad Basin,” he said.

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said Buhari also welcomed the advocacy by the Foundation on the need to protect endangered plants and animals in the country.

To this end, he directed the Federal Ministry of Environment to reflect this in its budgetary requirements in the next fiscal year, adding; “the rate at which animals are being hunted and eliminated around the country, we must seriously give the forest reserves our support and attention as much as we can.”

Earlier in his remarks, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, Member, Board of Trustees of the Foundation told the President that the nation’s wildlife was fast becoming extinct.

He added that for more than 10 years, the rate of deforestation in Nigeria has been one of the highest in the world with the country losing close to 95 per cent of its original forest cover.

He thanked the President for placing great emphasis on environmental issues, especially the aspect of climate change, and invited him to take charge of ‘Greening Nigeria.’

“We are all proud of the role that the Nigerian delegation headed by Mr President played during the climate change agreement in Paris and your single-minded determination to keep the issue in the front burner both at home and abroad.

“Your Government has also recorded remarkable achievements in addressing soil erosion with about 60 projects executed by the Ecological Funds all over Nigeria.

“This is not surprising when we remember that it was you, in your first coming as Head of State, that signed the first comprehensive law that addressed the protection of endangered plants and animals in Nigeria through the ‘Endangered Species Decree of 1985’, Joda said.

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‘Investigate or Legislate’: What Will the Democrats in Control of the House of Representatives Do?

With control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats have the opportunity to provide leadership for the United States. They will have to decide. Do they want to make their primary focus attacking President Donald Tramp, by continuing their impotent investigation of his alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election? Or will they actually provide a vision for the future of the USA, by enacting bold new legislation.  Any attempt to impeach President Trump would be a farce that would virtually ensure the Democrats would be defeated in the 2020 presidential election.

President Trump has demonstrated that he lacks a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles that created the USA. He has also displayed an unAmerican phobia to non-white foreigners from a multitude of countries arriving in the USA.  However, President Trump has distinguished himself in forming a close relationship with the President of China, Xi Xinping. He has also attempted to establish a working relationship with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. To the detriment of the USA (and the world) many Democrats, along with some members of his own administration, have adamantly opposed these positive initiatives by President Trump. President Trump has many shortcomings, but to his credit, he is not an ideologue, and he is not a devout follower of the geo-political doctrine on foreign policy. If President Trump took the audacious step to partner with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the world could be transformed.

Important polices must be implemented now to provide for the welfare of our citizens, which will require bipartisan action in the Congress. For example. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have made verbal commitments to support a Glass Steagall banking reorganization, yet no action has been taken by the Congress or this administration. Another opportunity for bipartisanship would be the passage of legislation for a transformative infrastructure plan to rebuild the USA.

Below is a useful article discussing how President Trump working with the Congress could fund large-scale infrastructure projects. 

A New Opportunity for a National Infrastructure Agenda?

Nov. 7, 2018—One thing is definitive about the results of the U.S. mid-term elections: Neither political party put a solution to the country’s economic and financial disaster on the national agenda.  That doesn’t mean that many of the new Democratic members of Congress don’t have a strong commitment to address the economic crisis, however. They can potentially galvanize the veteran Congressmen into action. The question is, will competent, workable proposals be put on the table in the 116th Congress?

Statements from President Trump and the putative incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the immediate aftermath of the election were notable for addressing the possibility of bipartisan progress on infrastructure. Both statements were quite vague, however—and, as some will recall, Trump has offered cooperation on infrastructure before. One need only look at his current blackballing of the New York City Gateway project to see how hollow that promise was.

Rep. DeFazio in his campaign photo.

More substantive have been remarks from the incoming chairmen of two House committees. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is expected to take over the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. According to a Nov. 7 Reutersarticle, DeFazio is prepared to put forward his previous proposal for a $500 billion plan, which would involve issuing 30-year bonds, using funds from  raising gas taxes. He believes Trump would accept an increase in the gas tax.

“There has to be real money, real investment,” DeFazio said today. “We’re not going to do pretend stuff like asset recycling. We’re not going to do massive privatization.”

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who is slated to take over the House Budget Committee, addressed the infrastructure question a few days before the election, according to an Oct. 30 Politico Pro article. He said he would be making a proposal which “involves some very long-term bonding authority that would help finance an infrastructure bank.”

The Issue of Funding

The inevitable sticking point in Congressional discussions of an adequate infrastructure bill—which should ultimately amount to spending trillions of dollars to meet the infrastructure deficit—will be funding. President Trump has already indicated his preference for off-loading the cost to local and state governments, and proposes to even cut the Federal contribution from today’s 80% to 20%. That’s a formula for non-action. The Democratic plans have not been specific.

The danger lies in a potential “compromise” that pushes Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as the solution to the funding dilemma. PPPs are presented as a means of reducing, or eliminating, public costs, by contracting with private companies to either build, manage, or both the needed element of infrastructure. The claim is that the private company can do the job cheaper and more efficiently, and the public will benefit.

Moving ahead on Gateway would be a good place to start.

Not so fast. First, some of the cheapness comes at the cost of labor—by violation of Davis-Bacon standards–and quality. Secondly, private contractors only enter PPP agreements on the guarantee that they will receive a revenue stream to cover their costs, and provide a profit. This can amount to tolls on a road, water bills for a water company, and the like. And if the stream doesn’t provide what the company considers adequate profit, what will it do?  Cut maintenance? Cut off people’s water supply? Both results have occurred! And they are unacceptable.

So, forget PPPs. The solution lies in taking the lead from Franklin Roosevelt and Alexander Hamilton. The Federal government has a unique capability (and responsibility) to create credit to modernize and rebuild our infrastructure. That credit can in fact be issued by turning current (virtually non-performing) government debt into bonds supporting an infrastructure bank, against which it would then issue new loans to help finance the long overdue infrastructure projects.  These would not only be short-term, but also long-term projects, such as the Gateway Project, California High Speed Rail, and the desperately needed water projects in the nation’s interior, for starters.  If the right projects are selected, the infrastructure constructed will pay back more to the economy in increased productivity than is expended–as well as creating millions of new, high-paying jobs.

For a modern proposal for such an infrastructure bank, click here